Founded in 1992, Sephardic Heritage Alliance, Inc., has since its inception been dedicated to support of Persian Jewish families' and individuals' preservation of our proud three-millennial cultural heritage; obtaining educations, whilst embracing positive acculturation in the United States. SHAI’s founders anticipated that the post-Iranian-Revolution Persian Jewish community in New York would grow and flourish, necessitating SHAI’s support in its transitions.
26 years later, the SHAI organization effectively serves as a Jewish Community Center without walls. Funded by donor generosity, boasting a thriving and active volunteer Board, SHAI helps the Persian Jewish community and our neighbors in innumerable ways:
With minimal overhead and maximal donor and volunteer dedication, SHAI accomplishes all these and more because we are committed to preserving the best of Persian Jewish culture while continually laying the groundwork for positive acculturation for the next generation of Persian Jewish Americans.
Support SHAI so we may continue to support the community!
|President||Rebecca Yousefzadeh Sassouni|
|Vice President||Edwin Cohen Azarkian|
|Shahram Delafraz *|
|Jacqueline Harounian *|
|Treasurer||Raymond Eshaghoff *|
|Educational Affairs||Pargol Khadavi *|
|Board of Trustees||David Adhami|
|Joseph Amirian *|
|Shahrokh Sean Eshaghoff|
|Hercel Harounian *|
|Anna Monahemi Kaplan|
|Fred Ohebshalom *|
|Rafael Sassouni *|
|Mirra Maslavi Zara|
|( * indicates Past President)|
PO Box 1025
Great Neck, NY 11023
Telephone: 855-SHAI-777 (855-7424-777)
This website is provided “as is” without any representations or warranties, express or implied. SHAI makes no representations or warranties in relation to this website or the information and materials provided on this website.
Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing paragraph, SHAI does not warrant that:
Nothing on this website constitutes, or is meant to constitute, advice of any kind. [If you require advice in relation to any [legal, financial or medical] matter you should consult an appropriate professional.]
Limitations of liability
SHAI will not be liable to you (whether under the law of contact, the law of torts or otherwise) in relation to the contents of, or use of, or otherwise in connection with, this website:
These limitations of liability apply even if SHAI has been expressly advised of the potential loss.
Nothing in this website disclaimer will exclude or limit any warranty implied by law that it would be unlawful to exclude or limit; and nothing in this website disclaimer will exclude or limit SHAI’s liability in respect of any:
By using this website, you agree that the exclusions and limitations of liability set out in this website disclaimer are reasonable.
If you do not think they are reasonable, you must not use this website.
[You accept that, as a limited liability entity, SHAI has an interest in limiting the personal liability of its officers and employees. You agree that you will not bring any claim personally against SHAI’s officers or employees in respect of any losses you suffer in connection with the website.]
[Without prejudice to the foregoing paragraph,] you agree that the limitations of warranties and liability set out in this website disclaimer will protect SHAI’s officers, employees, agents, subsidiaries, successors, assigns and sub-contractors as well as SHAI.
If any provision of this website disclaimer is, or is found to be, unenforceable under applicable law, that will not affect the enforceability of the other provisions of this website disclaimer.
SHAI is delighted to have been approached by the Center for Jewish History and the New York City Council to facilitate a seminal pilot Oral History Project at the Center. Details to follow.
For three millennia, the Jews of Persia endured and overcame obstacles on the path to survival. Known as the "People of the Book," Jews have long recognized the importance of oral and written textual tradition, and the concomitant obligation to educate ourselves and our children, across time and continents, wherever we reside.
Founded with pride in this tradition, Sephardic Heritage Alliance, Inc. "SHAI" is committed to educating young and old alike. SHAI's mission to fuse our heritage with our future, to pass tradition from generation to generation remains vital. For nearly three decades, SHAI has responded to the community's calls for senior support, educational scholarships, cultural programming, professional networking, educational, health, sports, forums, and much more. SHAI remains committed to serving the evolving needs of our community.
In 1992, a group of 13 friends in their mid-30s, found themselves at a crossroad frequently visited by immigrants of a new land. Having left Iran as young adults the group established their lives in a new homeland, New York, rich with opportunity and democratic freedoms. Yet, amidst their success, they were concerned about maintaining their ancestral legacy. Would America soon assimilate their young children into her great melting pot? Would their stories of a past life in a distant country, with snow-capped mountains and rich Farsi maxims, suffice to sustain the next generation? Seeking to instill a meaningful balance for their young children, these forward thinking friends moved to establish a platform, for the future, by which the Persian identity and heritage would be preserved and passed down from generation to generation. And so, the Sephardic Heritage Alliance, Inc, SHAI, was born.
Two and a half decades later, SHAI remains committed to its founders¹ core vision. Education is the cornerstone of SHAI¹s mission. As such, this commitment to keep its youth cohesive, well rounded and focused has evolved into a strong collaboration with local educational leaders, local government, and other non-profit organizations and institutions. The SHAI Scholarship Fund awards financially-deserving students with the means to pursue their education and obtain the tools for life. Remarkably, to date, with the help of the community, by distributing in excess of $2.0 million, SHAI has assisted over 1,200 deserving students in the United States and in Israel in achieving their educational goals.
SHAI takes seriously its commitment to cultivating the next generation of leaders. SHAI¹s thriving Young SHAI division supports its young adults¹ professional and social networking ambitions. SHAI takes pride in the fact that these events have resulted in closely knit bonds of friendship and the like.
SHAI underwrites programs designed to expose young children to Persian music, language and culture with Persian dance and Persian language instruction and has also worked to secure Farsi language instruction in the Great Neck Public School district. SHAI also underwrites the cost of a weekly Youth Activities Sports program to provide a fun and safe sports environment for kids.
In its second decade of existence, SHAI mobilized to serve the needs of its senior population. SHAI is proud to be the largest non-governmental sponsor of the Town of North Hempstead¹s Great Neck Social Center. SHAI is pleased to support the vitality and independence of the one hundred and fifty matriarchs and patriarchs of the community who attend. Three times a week, at no cost to them, seniors socialize, dine, and exercise. They also receive vital health care, educational information, and county social services.
SHAI proudly hosts an annual holiday Coat and Toy drive, a community-wide forum on the environment, a blood drive, educational panels in collaboration with local schools, parenting workshops, and health and wellness seminars. SHAI is also honored to organize a robust, multi-generational contingent of over 350 people each year in the Celebrate Israel Parade in Manhattan. Marching up Fifth Avenue, SHAI¹s unique 20 x 30 foot Israeli flag always gets aerial media coverage.
SHAI's youth services include a winter sports program, youth outings, and the Teen Leadership Program that provides some fifty youths an enriching and educational summer camp, free of charge, in Great Neck, NY.
SHAI has made an innumerable impact on the lives of many. All those who served on SHAI's Board over the past twenty years have integrated diverse opinions and energy into a sustainable organization that prides itself on transparency and democracy. The vision of a group of 13 young immigrant parents has resulted in a 25 year journey to preserve, educate and elevate an entire community of children, parents, families, and institutions.
Our Partnership with the Great Neck Senior Center
Since 2003, SHAI has supported the efforts of our board member Parvaneh Khodadadian, who has worked tirelessly as a volunteer at the Great Neck Senior Center, on behalf of Persian seniors in our community.
In 2007, after meeting with the Director of the Center, Anne Tarcher, and the Center's President, Phoebe Lazarus, SHAI made a significant financial pledge to assist with the operational expenses of the Great Neck Senior Center. SHAI's recent partnership with the Great Neck Senior Center on Grace Avenue has resulted in nearly 150 seniors from the Persian community, ages 60 to 100, who partake in expanded programming, door-to-door transportation, kosher meals (Monday through Friday), and companionship. Our seniors enjoy a full range of stimulating activities, including movies, exercises, day trips, dances, tea and conversations, English classes, card games, speakers, art classes, and Bingo.
The Center is a safe and caring environment, where trained Farsi speaking staff members are available on a daily basis to assist the seniors from our community. SHAI's goal is to coordinate expanded activities, outings, and events for the older members of our community, so they can enhance the vitality and enjoyment of their lives every weekday. To learn more or to register (no charge), please contact Mrs. Parvaneh Khodadadian, Director of SHAI activities at the Senior Center, at 516-487-4842, or visit our website, www.shaionline.com. We would like to acknowledge the support of State Senator Craig Johnson, Legislator Anna Kaplan, North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth, and of course Anne Tarcher, with regard to recognizing the needs of the many seniors in the Persian Jewish community.
Please consider making a donation earmarked for the Senior Center. Additional funds are needed to expand this program and your support is greatly appreciated. Volunteers are also needed at the Center, please contact Mrs. Khodadadian for more information.
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We owe our sincere gratitude to the members of our community who have generously supported the SHAI Educational Scholarship Fund from its inception in 1998. The Fund is the cornerstone of our educational agenda for the future. Although it is a need-based program, the SHAI Educational Scholarship Fund is not a charity. The Fund is an investment in the future of our community. In the long term, we are confident that it will yield real dividends, and by that we are referring to the hundreds of educated young people that will be helped by it.
Quality education is costly, especially for large families, and the cost of tuition is rising each year. The high cost of education puts it out of reach for some students, and makes it an unreasonable hardship for others. An educated mind is the key to a bright future and personal reward. An educated mind is one that is enriched with Jewish learning, a college degree, and maybe even a professional degree. It is our hope that SHAI's scholarship program will give a degree of financial assistance to every student that needs it, so that every family that needs it can have a helping hand in educating their children. The Scholarship Fund has grown significantly with each passing year, enabling our organization to help students of Persian Jewish heritage over the past 10 years. Since its inception, we have awarded $2 Million in scholarship funds to over 1000 students. The Fund is administered under clear guidelines, designed to ensure its integrity, and to yield the maximum benefit to the widest range of students.
It is said that those who have the means to afford the mitzvah of giving, should give, whether the amount is $100 or $260,000. By donating to this worthy cause, you are investing in the future of the Persian Jewish community, and you are doing it in a manner that benefits us all. When our children finish their studies, and by virtue of their education, they will be able to support their future families and our future community. We urge anyone who has questions about the Scholarship Program, to approach any board member at any time. We will be happy to give you more detailed information about the endowment fund, how it is maintained, how the monies are distributed, and the special donations for Israel. (o date, SHAI has awarded nearly $50,000 in scholarships for needy students in Israel. It is our sincere hope that, with your continued support and generosity, the SHAI Scholarship Fund will be a source of financial support for students in need, for generations to come.
The SHAI Scholarship Committee is extremely discreet and committed to maintaining applicants' confidentiality.
For this reason, online/electronic applications are not accepted. Do NOT e-mail your application. Please mail to the PO Box address listed on the application.
SHAI's Teen Leadership Program is a youth summer camp that was initiated during the summer of 2013 with two dozen participants. The program is designed for use by thirteen and fourteen year olds as a fun and educational summer program based in Great Neck NY. The Teen Leadership Program’s main focus is for our teens to come together to learn about their heritage, to give back through community service, and to develop their leadership skills. Activities include leadership classes with Rabbi Levy, Krav Maga self defense classes, paint-balling, rock climbing, sports tournaments, water parks, and trips to Adventure Land and The Long Island Holocaust Museum. They also visit the Great Neck Senior Center to spend time with the elders of our community.
Directed and organized by Rabbi Yamin Levy, this program operates from within Beth Hadassah Synagogue’s summer camp. For six weeks during the summer months, the camp participants learn the values of community and charitable work while enjoying fun and interesting activities.
Teens who complete the Teen Leadership Program over the summer are then given the opportunity to attend weekly classes with Rabbi Levy during the school year. The following summer they have the chance to participate in a three week trip to Israel. In 2015, twelve graduates from the 2014 CIT program participated in the Teen Israel Trip.
During the summer of 2015, due to the overwhelming demand, SHAI doubled the size of the camp participants from 25 to 50 youngsters. With the tight bonds and close relationships that are formed through the Teen Leadership Program, the teens of our community are able to develop strong leadership skills while learning and also having fun!